Game of Thrones – Season 3 – A Reaction

Plot synopses and reaction to the HBO Television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s book “A Storm of Swords.”  This article is part of a larger series of reviews on the “Game of Thrones” television adaptations of George RR Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” book series.

Episode 1:  “Valar Dohaeris”

By the completion of the episode’s opening scenes, it seemed that all of the Night’s Watch were finally on the same page regarding the white walkers being back in action.  Somewhat parallel in Jon Snow’s story, I really enjoyed the witty introduction of Mance Rayder via proxy.  The introduction of giants amid the wildlings was also a nice touch. Peter Dinklage, as usual, had a fine few scenes with Cersei and Tywin. That said, he didn’t quite steal the entire episode like he tended to do in the past.  Having been aware that in the books Tyrion had his nose cut off during the Blackwater battle, there was a nice throwaway line acknowledging the lessening of his injuries for the television adaptation. I had to confirm that the actor playing Stannis was actually the same actor, as he looked oddly different compared to the prior season.  His short temper as a character was the same though.  I would have thought by now that Davos might have realized that trying to rat out the crazy red-headed cult leader Melisandre simply wasn’t going to work. Sansa Stark appeared poised to run off with Littlefinger, although that seemed ill-advised given his history of trickery.  The prostitutes Shae and Ros continued to make limited appearances, with it interesting that Ros would go out of her way to warn Sansa of Littlefinger’s treachery.  The likely-new-queen Margaery Tyrell, had an interesting ploy afoot involving helping the orphaned children of the kingdom. Although appearing charitable, given the character’s family, it had to be assumed to be very strategic on her part. As might be expected, the scenes with Daenerys were amongst the most interesting.  Her dragons seemed to be getting quite large, even if she disagreed with that opinion.  Given the insults going on under her nose during her dealings with the ‘Unsullied’ slave trader Kraznys mo Nakloz, I expected said slave trader to die in some horrible fashion down the road.  At least, I think that most viewers wanted that to be the case.  It was not usually a good idea to cross Daenerys. The apparent continued threat of a warlock from Qarth – perhaps Pyat Pree – made for a nice thrill at the end of the episode.  The re-appearance of the forgotten Ser Barristan Selmy from the first season to help Daeneyrs was an unexpected surprise. I looked up the episode’s title, “Valar Dohaeris” and found that it meant ‘all men must serve.’  That was a reference back to the second season finale’s episode title “Valar Morghuli” (‘All men must die/are mortal’).  This was the code phrase Jaqen H’ghar left with Arya, although readers of the book series didn’t apparently learn the reply phrase until later in “Storm of Swords.”  I found it an unusual choice for the episode title since Arya didn’t appear in a single scene. I’ve seen many reviews of this episode refer to it as getting everyone caught up and touching upon the major characters.  Not a whole lot happened other than the usual early-season setting of the pieces on the playing field.  It wasn’t a boring episode, but it wasn’t also one of the more memorable either.

Episode 2:  “Dark Wings, Dark Words”

Much of this episode felt like it continued the ‘catching up on folks’ theme, this time with additional characters. Bran’s re-introduction helped to move the whole going-inside-animals ‘warg’ mythology forward.  As did a brief scene involving the warg Orell in Mance Rayder’s group.  The introductions of the warg Jojen and his sister Meera Reed to Bran would seem to signal a means for Bran to learn more about his super-powers.  In general, this mythology was poised to be expanded up.  Having otherwise been in the dark about it, I was glad to see it making some significant steps. Robb Stark -whose even mundane scenes seem to oddly crackle when his wife Talisa were in them – received news of the potential deaths of his younger brothers at Winterfell.  Of course, viewers knew better even if he didn’t.  Robb’s mother seemed to be taking things a bit hard by blaming everything on not accepting that bastard Jon Snow into their family. I’d hoped that Arya would get a chance to show her skills after being captured by Thoros and the Brotherhood without Banners.  That didn’t happen though, as we were reminded that she still had a lot to learn.  The brotherhood member who shot an arrow up on the sky and accurately timed its near-fatal landing was awesome.  Also awesome was the re-appearance of the Hound, as he outed Arya.  I didn’t immediately place the Brotherhood without Banners, but they were apparently the group being tortured in the second season that Arya previously had some interaction with. I had to go back and refresh my memory regarding how Theon Greyjoy ended up in his captured-and-tortured predicament.  At the end of the second season, he and his men were trying to hold Winterfell against the forces of Ramsay Snow, who had been sent there by Robb Stark. After some of Theon’s men turned on him, he ended up being captured. Theon seemed to be in a dire situation, but faint hope was offered by the appearance of a boy claiming to have been sent by Theon’s sister. For as much of a swordsman as Jaime Lannister was made out to be by reputation, I began to wonder if that wasn’t an illusion, given how Brienne bested him during his bridge-crossing escape.  The pair were apparently captured by a group linked to the people who tried to take over Winterfell from Theon, so perhaps those plot threads would cross soon. The storylines from the first episode did move forward a little bit at King’s landing.  Diana Rigg was again impressive in her role as Margaery’s straight-talking grandmother Lady Olenna and Sansa had a nice scene with her while describing Joffrey as a ‘monster.’  Could Sansa trust the Tyrell’s? Joffrey had a fun scene with his mother, asserting his usual idiotic arrogance.  Margaery’s later scene with Joffrey involving arrow demonstration and gay-dead-husband talk was appropriately creepy  Tyrion’s brief scene should have been forgettable, but somehow they never are with a few zinger lines on his part. It was interesting to note how much Renly’s sexual orientation was a topic in this episode.  It was mentioned at length by both his ex-wife and Jaimie, but apparently generally avoided in the books.  Why that had become such a talker was somewhat unclear, other than to raise tensions. While not a bad episode, there were a number of new character introductions without any big shocker moments.  As usual, I look forward to more action across the sea.

Episode 3:  “Walk of Punishment”

Season three appeared to kick into high gear with the third episode. The events at the funeral of Catelyn’s father was an early indicator that it would be interesting.  Firstly, I loved that Catelyn’s brother Edmure managed to miss hitting the funeral pyre three times with a flaming arrow.  While he was readying to shoot, I randomly though about how hard that shot would be and how amusing it would be if he missed – then he did!  The friction with his uncle and later revelation that Edmure had managed to also screw up Robb’s plans was great.  Edmure could not catch a break. The events at King’s landing served to be impressively ‘light,’ with the silent game of chairs at Tywin’s Small Council meeting being a hoot.  Everyone played their roles as you might expect of the characters.  I hope that Tyrion figures out a way to somehow con the kingdom out of its debts, but no solution is immediately popping into mind.  The ‘reward’ given to Podrick for saving Tyrion’s life wasn’t nearly as amusing as the punchline that the ladies didn’t want to be paid afterward. After Theon was freed from captivity by his sister’s purported inside agent, I really did think he was going to get ‘Deliverance’-ed, prior to being again saved. The brief scene with Stannis being denied another ‘son’ to finish off his enemies presented an interesting explanation for what otherwise would have been a glaring plot hole (i.e. why not just have Melisandre give birth to demon after demon?).  My interest was piqued regarding what Melisandre was departing to do. The events on the other side of the Wall weren’t incredibly interesting – give or take Mance Rayder’s group arriving at the White Walker’s swirl of horse heads. I was surprised by the return visit to Craster’s Keep, which was as uncomfortable as in the second season. Daeynerys’ scenes were too brief and at a slow pace for me.  I suspected that she had a plan in mind regarding not having to give up one of her dragons in the deal for Kraznys mo Nakloz’s slave soldiers, but for now the deal seemed legitimate. Hot Pie’s good-bye to Arya didn’t really register much with me.  He’d simply been too minor of a character. The scenes with Brienne and Jaime were probably the biggest ‘talkers’ though, first with their verbal sparring and later with Jaime lying about Brienne’s nobility to save her from rape.  I was surprised with how quickly Jaime lost a hand and that Locke would do it in the first place. The end credit music was a bit jarring.  At first I kind of liked the randomness of modern rock, but then that novelty wore off.  Some research showed that the song was “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” by The Hold Steady.  Apparently it was recorded for the show.  Hopefully the showrunners weren’t thinking of going in a “Knight’s Tale” direction in the future.

Episode 4:  “And Now His Watch is Ended”

The episode’s most awesome scene was its last scene. I’d feared that the Daenerys storyline would involve her stuck in Astapor all season.  Instead, her segment felt like a season-ending moment.  While it seemed a safe bet that she had a plan in mind, the payoffs were great.  The fact that she’d secretly understood the Valyrian language all along was icing on the cake.  Perhaps most impressive was her development as a likable queen of a presumably now-freed people.  But will 8,000+ be enough of an army? The rest of the episode was a mixed bag, but a mostly quite good one. The impending royal wedding location’s set was impressive, with Joffrey and Margaery having a nice scene together.  I continued to not be sure what to make of the developing Sanaa-Margaery relationship.  Margaery seemed to be all about herself at times.  Of course, Diana Rigg’s Lady Olenna continued to steal the show in a way that was similar to Tyrion.  Everyone loves the stern comic relief.  Elsewhere at King’s landing, Cersei’s dressing down by her father was also an impressive moment. Bran’s brief ‘dream’ segment gave a reminder of how his climbing hobby back at the beginning put him into his paralysis situation.  It seemed so long ago now. The reversal of Theon’s situation was quite a shocker.  Apparently the cleaning boy who’d helped him to escape from his mysterious captivity wasn’t who he claimed to be.  His role wasn’t entirely clear yet, as his breakout deception was a bit oddly elaborate if the goal was simply to get Theon to admit to killing the Stark boys or not. I half-thought that the handless Jaime might somehow get free once he had a sword in his hand after falling off of his horse.  Of course, that didn’t happen.  He had a nice, if inconclusive discussion with Brienne afterwards. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Arya somehow successfully fight the Hound.  That said, the introduction of Beric Dondarrion made me interested in how the Hound might fare against him. I was a little surprised that the Night’s Watchmen essentially rebelled against their commander.  But, who didn’t want to see Craster get his what he had coming though?  Once nice thing about most storylines’ writing is that, as horrible as some characters behave, there is a trend whereby said characters seem to be given horrible demises. It was a bit uncomfortable when Sam complimented Gilly on her son being so beautiful.  I get that he was trying to woo her, but if you think overly hard about things, it was awkward.

Episode 5:  “Kissed by Fire”

Stannis confessing to his affair with Melisandre to his wife Selyse was extremely weird, somewhat of a norm for him though.  Her possession of the stillborn sons that she gave Stannis was uncomfortably disturbing.  By this point in the season, I wasn’t entirely sure where the relationship between the imprisoned Davos and Stannis’s daughter Shireen was intended to go. The battle between Dondarrion and the Hound wasn’t quite as epic as I’d built up in my mind heading into it.  I did like the surprising reveal of Dondarrion’s re-animated survival at the end. Robb Stark’s need to get Lord Frey involved again as an ally seemed to be a longshot.  Frey didn’t seem like the kind of guy to be overly forgiving of leaving one of his daughters at the altar.  Unrelated, Robb’s beheading of Lord Karstark was ugly, recalling the beheading back in the series’s first episode. Jon Snow certainly had a number of character turns in this episode, first betraying the Night’s Watch’s guard castle staffing plans and later losing what was presumed to be his virginity to Ygritte.  That scene with Ygritte was quite hot, even though one had to assume that a girl walking around in the snow under all that clothing would be a little on the ripe side. Jaime continued to be humanized during his ‘cleanup’ scene discussion with Brienne.  I don’t sense any romance developing between the pair, but they continue to seem to be establishing a sort of partnership joined by mutual respect.  Presuming truth to the story that Jaime related regarding saving King’s Landing from the ‘mad king,’ his becoming ”kingslayer” was actually under quite heroic circumstances. Daenerys’s scenes were short, with the introduction of Grey Worm presumably paying off later.  Based on his reaction, the Unsullied sure like her already.  The conversation between Jorah Mormont and Barristan Selmy was quite subtle in that it was easy to forget that Jorah was apparently a spy.  As a result, Jorah was asking very much leading questions to know if Barristan Selmy knew his past history as a spy. I was a bit surprised by how ‘aggressive’ the love scene was played between Loras and Olyvar, but I probably shouldn’t have been.  The reveal that Olyvar was working for Littlefinger was great. The jockeying by Littlefinger for Sansa Stark to run away with him never quite seemed like it would happen, but the idea of an arranged romance with Loras seemed credible.  The late revelation that Sansa would wed Tyrion was quite unexpected though.  Equally unexpected was Cersei being pushed to marrying the presumably-much-younger Loras.  While those plans were quite good from a strategic standpoint, I remained skeptical regarding how it would play out.  The revelation of the plan did provide the episode’s most shocking moment though, appropriately saved for the final scene.

Episode 6:  “The Climb”

One of my favorite scenes in this episode involved the powerhouse showdown between Tywin and Lady Olenna.  The verbal sparring and maneuvering was great stuff. Sansa’s flirty chat with Loras had me initially confused, until Tyrion arrived to give the news of his impending marriage to her.  The involvement of Shae in that revelation scene was nice structural work, but I felt somewhat robbed from getting a great ‘explanation’ scene from Tyrion.  The cutaway to everyone’s later reactions to the news let me down, since we didn’t see the ‘meat’ of the scene. That new-for-the-show double-agent prostitute Ros’ life came to a signature sudden end.  The reveal of her death at Joffrey’s hand was somewhat undermined by the unusual use of narration from the double-dealing Varys over a Littlefinger montage, something that felt out of place on the show. Arya continued to be one of the most interesting characters, but I was surprised that Melisandre didn’t do anything to her during their brief meeting.  Melisandre didn’t seem like the kind of person one should talk trash to and Arya certainly did some trash talking.  Perhaps whatever Melisandre saw in Arya’s future worked to her advantage though.  Gendry has been such a minor background character that I couldn’t easily guess how things will work out for him while in Melisandre’s clutches. The negotiations between King Robb and Lord Frey’s team took some not entirely unexpected twists.  Robb’s uncle Edmure simply could not catch a break with him being put on the spot to marry one of Frey’s daughters in place of Robb.  Perhaps his daughter Roslin won’t turn out to be as bad a feared though. Jaime continued a trend of stealing scenes, this time due to his problems with cutting meat one-handed.  His ‘partnership’ with Brienne remained a highlight of the season.  Viewers were left wondering if he would leave Brienne behind by taking Lord Bolton’s deal to return to King’s Landing. The minor storylines with Samwell and Gilly, Bran, and Theon all didn’t really register much attention.  Theon’s continued to be confusion with the actions of the cleaning boy making little sense.  With the season winding down, his storyline could end up delivering very little. Jon Snow’s climb up the wall with Ygritte and the other wildings in their party was somewhat predictable.  Granted, the journey was portrayed as quite harrowing, but it was unlikely that they would fail.  The bond forming between to Jon and Ygritte did seem to be solidifying.

Episode 7:  “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”

So, thanks to HBO deciding not to do a repeat of last week’s memorial day 9th episode – a ratings low in Season Two – viewers were given an extra week to catch up on the season thus far. By this point, I couldn’t believe that this was already episode 7.  I was rather concerned that viewers were not going to end the season in incredibly notable fashion… especially if the fourth season contained the climax of the third book. Given that George R. R. Martin wrote this episode, I assumed that it would be a significant one.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t really any more notable than any other prior third season episodes. Jon Snow, Ygritte, and company continued toward Castle Black with some seeming jealousy from Orell over the pair’s romance.  There were some nice acting scenes, but until they reached Castle Black, the drama didn’t seem like it would be very high. Daenerys had a great scene in which she met the emissary from the city of Yunkai.  She appeared to be using the approach of ‘free all the slaves’ with many presumably joining her.  Given that Yunkai was purported to have over 200,000 slaves, a group that large would be impressive to get on her side.  It seemed like taking the city might be problematic though. Robb Stark’s scenes were notable for a couple of reasons.  First was the obvious announcement that he would soon be a father.  Second was the significant screen time that his wife Talisa’s backside had. Speaking of backsides, Theon’s scene had both that and also various frontsides.  His storyline continued to be the most bizarre of the season, with me thinking at times that I was suddenly watching a middle-ages version of “Saw.”  At the time of this episode, I don’t entirely believe that he was going to lose his genitals at the hand of the mysterious ‘boy’ who was holding him. Arya seemed like she could be the most interesting character on the show if she was older and less prone to constantly being kidnapped.  This episode contained her getting kidnapped by the Hound. In the Bran storyline, the woman Osha had been largely forgotten.  She had a nice scene this episode though, relating the tragic death of her husband. The Melisandre storyline took an interesting turn as she revealed to Gendry that he was King Robert’s bastard son.  What she’d do with him now that he knew this information wasn’t entirely clear. Tywin’s scene with Joffrey was apparently their first extended moment together in the series thus far and it was quite good.  I kept expecting Tywin to snap at his grandson, but he kept his cool, while still seeming to somehow outwit him. Based on the scene with Sansa and Margaery, viewers had to assume that Margaery wasn’t as caste as she claimed to be.  Although, did anyone think that she really was? Tyrion’s scene with Shae was strong, as she had an understandable beef with him and he had a massive problem if he wanted to stay with her. The Jaime redemption tour continued with his harrowing rescue of Brienne from the bear pit.  Apparently the bear in the scene was real, although the shots with it were composed from separate elements.

Episode 8: “Second Sons”

After being pessimistic about the season ending in grand fashion, I felt more optimistic after this great episode.  Of course, it helped that this episode ended up focusing on my favorite storylines. The Hound’s plan with Arya came into better focus, as it made a lot of sense to simply return her to her family.  He reminded her – and audiences – that he was not necessarily a bad guy. A lot happened at King’s Landing.  I had to chuckle a few times over the confusing nature of relations between the Lannister and Tyrell families.  That was referenced directly later on, but also in Margaery’s controversial call of ‘sister’ to Cersei. In doing some research, I’d missed many earlier references to the song “The Rains of Castame” that the pair discussed.  The Tyrells seem like climbers, but any plan that they have to overthrow the Lannisters seemed obscure at this point.  Simply manipulating Joffrey would seem to suffice. The Tyrion/Sansa wedding occurred rather suddenly, with the pre-wedding, reception, and non-bedding scenes all being exceptional.  Tyrion showed the gentle side that seemed to have endeared him to viewers.  Joffery had a great moment of cruelty during the wedding when he casually removed Tyrion’s step ladder, embarrassing him.  Tyrion’s later meltdown against Joffery was exactly what the viewer wanted. Melisandre’s plan still seemed unclear, although by the end of the episode she apparently had something cooking against Robb Stark, Belon Greyjoy, and Joffrey.  It was nice to see Davos getting out of prison after getting through to Stannis. What must Stannis have though when he walked in on Melisandre’s seduction of Gendry?  Gendry appeared to still be alive after his encounter, perhaps for future use with leeches drawing his blood.  The ‘rules’ related to Melisandre’s witchcraft remained unclear. The scenes involving the leaders of the Second Sons and Daeneyrs contained a few nice twists.  I was surprised by how vulgar the leader of the Second Sons was toward Daeneyrs upon meeting her.  The later revelation that Second Son co-leader Daario had killed his compadres for love of Daenerys was pretty wild.  Daeneyrs showed her usual lack of modesty regarding nudity for the first time in over a season, while introducing what I assumed to be a compelling romantic subplot.  Someone might want to give Jorah Mormont a head’s up that he has competition. I thought that ending the episode with Sam and Gilly would be low-key, but of course it was not.  The sudden appearance and killing of a White Walker served as a reminder regarding how powerful a single one of them can be.  I was surprised that Sam’s dagger to the Walker’s back destroyed it though.  In researching, it seemed that he had a ‘dragonglass’ spear tip that helped matters.  It might be convenient to have more of that around.

Episode 9:  “The Rains of Castamere”

After viewing this episode, one hoped that the final episode of the season would end things on a bit more optimistic note. A pattern across the first two seasons was to use the ninth episode of a given season to showcase the season’s most dramatic moments.  This was the case again with this season, although its climax mirrored the first season’s shocking death of Ned Stark more so than the second season’s sprawling Battle of Blackwater.  If trends continue, the final episode of season three would provide some modest wrap-up while also giving viewers a nice teaser for the next season. The Daenerys situation at Yunkai seemed to mostly focus on the emerging soap opera between Daenerys, Darrio, and Jorah.  Although viewers were shown a small skirmish while Darrio, Jorah, and Grey Worm snuck into the city, the show followed the ‘skip the battle’ tactic used in the first season with the Battle of the Whispering Wood.  Despite talk of a prior talk of a problematic battle awaiting at Yunkai, in the end it was seemingly a foregone conclusion that victory was assured after the downfall of the Second Sons. Over north of the Wall, Sam’s plan of eventually using the abandoned Nightform castle in order to gain access through the Wall seemed rather convenient.  His work studying history in the library in the past served him well. Bran’s storyline actually became interesting for once, probably due to his intersection with Jon Snow.  Bran was shown as being a sort of super-powered Warg by calming Hodor after entering his mind, so his storyline might show some improvement in the future. The seeming betrayal of Jon Snow against the Wildlings, was both expected and unexpected.  His refusal to kill the horse breeder and later killing of the Wildingly warg  Orell were not surprises.  His running off from Ygritte was a bit of a surprise, although it might take some time to clear up everyone’s intentions during Jon’s escape.  Was Jon betraying Ygritte or simply putting his life ahead of staying with her in the short term? The mixed bag of Bran’s party appeared to split up for the foreseeable future.  Perhaps it made sense to have Rickon on his own in case of further problems leading to the death of one of the brothers.  However, it further depleted eithers’ capability by splitting up.  Presumably Bran will continue on to the wall with Hodor, but what he would find there was unlikely to be what he was seeking at this point. The obvious talker of the episode was the final scene.  It contained the most shocking turn of events of the series thus far, even eclipsing the death of Ned Stark in Season One.  With the death of Ned, the series was still relatively young.  By the end of the third season, Robb, Catelyn, and even Talisa had been firmly established as familiar characters.  They were the clearest cast of ‘good guys.’ Frey’s betrayal of the Starks was masterfully handled in terms of presentation.  With recent attention brought to “The Rains of Castamere” song, the wedding band’s playing it was a nice indicator that the Lannisters were about to do something very bad from afar.  Most viewers wouldn’t have predicted just how bad though, as it initially appeared that Robb or Catelyn might somehow survive the massacre that followed. I can sympathize with fans who questioned why Talisa was introduced and made pregnant so close to a finale where the producers would already be piling on darkness.  The Red Wedding has been referred to by George R.R. Martin as perhaps the darkest scene in the entire book series thus far, yet the development and inclusion of Talisa only raised the stakes even more.  Her death did give Robb Stark something to react more directly to, although it seemed a bit overboard by that point.  I mean, they did kill Robb’s dog too, an act that almost never happens in entertainment.  Killing a guy’s dog, mother, wife, and unborn child before killing him is pretty much the full checklist of horrible things that could be done to a character. Despite calls by some fans that they are done watching the show, I highly doubt that the slaughter of the Starks will do much to impact the ratings.  The death of Ned should have set expectations that the show was about defying convention.  Robb and Talisa were only becoming more interesting in the third season as Robb in more of an obvious command role.  Catelyn has long been a tragic character.  None of the three seemed to have much in the way of direction left other than to be the obvious heroes, something that the series tried to avoid. George R.R. Martin has mentioned numerous times in interviews that the ending of the entire saga will be ‘bittersweet.’  That’s probably the right tone to have in this case.  In doing so, he’s acknowledging that some people will not have happy endings, but he’s also making clear that he’s presumably not going to completely screw over readers who have followed the saga through thousands of pages. While everything else was occurring, Edmure was off in the bedding ceremony with his new wife, Frey’s unexpectedly attractive wife Roslin.  What occurred with him, was seemingly not yet shown, but hopefully addressed.  Related to their wedding, Robb’s apology to Frey and the relative lightness of that scene was in stark (pun intended) contrast to the later events. Arya came tantalizingly close to being reunited with her brother and mother.  Oh well.  The Hound managed to again be a hero of sorts, keeping Arya alive despite her frequent threats to his life.

Episode 10:  “Mhysa”

So… this was it for the season? Right away, viewers learned more about the Wall.  How in the heck did anyone build a 500 mile long wall that is 700 feet high?  I noticed that Sam referred to it as 500 miles long, while other sources referred to it at being 300 miles long.  Either way, that is a big wall. It was good to see the ‘Red Wedding’ from the prior episode get tied up a bit.  Frey seemed to be celebrating his ‘victory,’ but it seemed unlikely that such treachery would not go unpunished at some point.  The mutilation of Robb’s body and his head’s replacement with his wolf’s head was unsettling. Also unsettling was Arya’s first murder, a bit of vengeance against some random soldiers who were bragging up participating in the head-switch stunt.  She’s obviously on track to being a warrior someday, but she’s also clearly quite reckless in her youth. It took all season, but Theon’s storyline finally stopped being a bizarre mystery.  With the revelation that his captor was the bastard son of Frey’s ally Roose Bolton, viewers were given some pieces to the puzzle.  That revelation didn’t necessarily make the season’s many scenes torture porn any more interesting though.  The Greyjoy clan’s receiving of Theon’s ‘junk in a box’ was rather shocking – I’d not entirely believed that the boy had cut it off.  Yara Greyjoy’s plan to rescue her brother seemed a bit surprising.  I couldn’t help but think that she just wanted an excuse to do some fighting. I wanted to find more emotion in the brief ‘reunion’ of Jon Snow and Ygritte, but I can’t say that I did.  If anything, I felt bad for her having to play second fiddle to everything else going on in Westros and beyond.  As it is though, Jon had bigger priorities to deal with and Ygritte had always been a bit unpredictable with that bow. The events at King’s Landing were uniformly interesting, with Tyrion and Sansa’s budding relationship seemingly being deep-sixed for the foreseeable future after they both learned of the Stark murders.  It wasn’t entirely clear who Varys was working for his in pushing of Shae to leave Westros with a bag of diamonds.  I’ll admit to being a bit surprised that she genuinely seems to be in love with Tyrion, hence her refusal of the offer. Tywin’s council meeting was spectacular as always.  From Joffrey getting dressed down to the conflicted revelation that Tywin was going to murder Tyrion as a baby.  Perhaps most powerful was Tywin’s justification of the Red Wedding as a way to save lives for everyone in the end. Jaime’s return to King’s Landing was unexpected – I didn’t realize that he was so close.  His reunion with Cersei was a mix of curious and touching.  Viewers were certainly left to ponder what is going to happen next with that odd couple.  By this point, most probably were just as curious about what might be next for the warrior pairing of Jaime and Brienne. It was a heck of a coincidence that Bran’s group happened to meet up with Sam and Gilly when they did at the Nightfort.  Finally the dragonglass concept was explained a bit.  I couldn’t blame Sam for thinking that Bran’s group was a bit nuts for voluntarily heading north of the wall.  The scene with Maester Aemon was helpful in that it seemed to lead to the word about the White Walkers finally getting further spread around the realm. Aemon’s warning seemed to at least find a reception with Stannis’s group, particularly Melisandre.  While Davos would presumably have been in trouble for letting Gendry escape his death sentence, Melisandre mysteriously hinted of Davos playing an important role in the future.  Quite a reversal in the relationship between those two compared to the prior season. Daenerys again provided the ending for a season, although her final shot didn’t have the teaser quality of the first season’s ending.  I have to agree with some pundits who thought that it was increasingly becoming an odd statement that all of the slaves coming under her command appeared to be the ‘minorities’ of George R.R. Martin’s greater world.  It sets up some odd consequences to consider if her plan is to lead an army of ‘dark skinned’ people against the uniformly white residents of Westros. Some reviewers pointed toward Daenerys’ crowd-surfing amongst the slaves as being a sign of a shift in her character, but I couldn’t say that I saw it that way.  She had always been an odd character, never the docile princess and always seeming to have a surprising plan in store.


This season felt like it was only half of a story… which it obviously was, covering only half of a single book.  Presumably, season four will wrap up the rest of “Storm of Swords,” giving current events a bit more satisfying resolution. Where we head after that does seem a bit problematic though.  Thinking ahead, I have noticed some remarks regarding the fourth book in the series being a bit of a letdown, with new characters introduced amid little forward movement by the main favorites. As the season three finale reminded viewers, the game of thrones taking place in Westros seemed quite futile given the threat of the White Walkers.  That threat was starting to come into focus as the endgame, but I’d thought that people would be a bit more attentive toward it.  Yes, I realized that the word was just getting out, but the soap operas seemed like a waste of time in comparison to that threat.  That’s a shame, since the soap operas were quite interesting on their own. My biggest concern coming out of season three was that some storylines might be treading water for a while.  I hope that I’m wrong, but the major events of the season seemed to be Daenerys raising her army and the death of the Starks.  Beyond that, not a lot happened.  Unfortunately, those major events signaled some momentum losses in the near-term.  With Robb’s army out of the picture, the situation in Westros became less tense.  Daenerys could presumably be poised to cause problems in Westros, but I’d inadvertently seen future spoilers that she’s not in a hurry to do that for some reason.  If she’s forced to continue to wait for her dragons to mature, viewers could be in for a long wait. The characters have obviously been the show’s richest virtue, so I didn’t mean to say that it was growing uninteresting.  Rather, I would simply voice a concern (that I hope was proven wrong) that the over-arching plot of the show was getting lost at what might be the one-third mark for the complete series.  Going forward, the show would need to have some of the existing characters who haven’t been as compelling somehow step up and be as compelling as some of the most popular characters.


Benioff, David, and D.B. Weiss. Game of Thrones. 2011. Film. Martin, George R. R. A Storm of Swords. New York: Bantam Books, 2000. Print.

D.S. Christensen
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